Are Pit Bulls (or Their Owners) Nuts?

I’m an established “cat person”, but there’s one question about dogs that I’ve wondered about…

Pit Bulls have a terrible reputation (in both senses of the word). Some people protest that while they are actually nice doggies, they tend to be owned by people who want a real kick-ass pooch (or should that be “bite-ass”?) and thus they tend to be made aggressive by their treatment.

I’ve heard of some towns where it is actually illegal to own a Pit Bull. The law-makers seem to have concluded that the problem is Nature, not Nurture. That is to say, they think that a Pit Bull is just inherently a Bad Dog.

Is it possible that, as a result of inbreeding, Pit Bulls are, in fact, completely wacko?

A dog only does what you train him to do. Pit bulls are aggressive, but not overly dangerous unless their owners train them as attack dogs (it’s pretty much like a german shepherd). However their reputation tends to attract owners who are looking for a dog as a weapon.

A lot of insurance companies are now refusing to write homeowner’s insurance (liability coverage) for people who own Rottweilers or pit bulls. Too manny claims.


Not entirely true. I never trained my dog to walk around in circles before lying down, for example. If a breed has been designed for hundreds of years to kill things, I don’t think it should come as much of a shock when a member of that breed tries to kill something, no matter how nice it is ordinarily.


I think it’s a nature vs. nurture argument, and since it’s very hard to argue against the fact that dogs have been bred for centuries to refine certain physical and tempermental characteristics . . I’m steering clear of every owning a pit-bull or a Rottweiller.

Leslie Irish Evans

It’s not true that pit bulls are uniformly vicious animals, but neither is it true that they’re just innocent little dogs until somebody trains them to be aggressive.
Different types of dogs have different inherent traits, and pit bulls as a breed happen to be among the more aggressive, and they also happen to have a very strong, tough build to back it up.
That means that if you want to encourage him to be aggressive, he’ll sure follow your lead. And if you do nothing to discourage him, he’ll probably be aggressive than your average dog.
But if you’re conscientious enough to train him and control him properly, I’m sure a pit bull could be a great pet.
I favor large, strong dogs myself, but I also feel very strongly that they come with an obligation to control them. That involves the way you raise the puppy and interact with the adult dog, not just a strong chain.
– Greg, Atlanta

That should be “more” aggressive than your average dog, in the third graf.
And I should add that, as much as I love big dogs, I still steer clear of pit bulls and rottweillers I don’t know. It’s not the dog’s fault, but you need to know how responsible the owner is before you stick your hand out.
– Greg, Atlanta

A few years ago,my son and I were on the bus. There was a little old lady walking her poodle. A pit ran across the street(no leash) and got the poodle by the neck and never let go. I believe they are by nature aggressive,and I carry a lighter on me just in case.

Any dog can be raised to be aggressive. but i’ve heard that pit bulls are succeptable (sp) to a disorder that causes the brain to swell which makes them a little crazy. that’s why they say pit bulls eventually turn on their owners.

rottwielers have some pit bull in them.

i, of course, have no documentation to back this up, but it’s interesting.

also, i have known people who raise fighting dogs ( a practice i happen to find appaling), and they do things to the dogs to make them crazy, like sprinkle gun powder over their food.

The (2) pit bulls on one side of my parents house tore up the Chihuahua on the other side. The C. was owned by a 90 year old man. It cost him $500 to attempt unsuccessfully to save his best friend’s life. The pit bull people paid the $500 but that doesn’t go anywhere close to bringing his dog back.

He hasn’t been the same since. Poor guy.

This is the second dog they’ve murdered. In Hawaii there are no laws to make pit bull owners liable for this kind of crap. Apparently nothing is going to happen until a human is mauled.


      • Pit Bulls are agressive, but often the animal’s individual conditioning goes way beyond whatever instinct it was born with (see also “assholes” thread). As a result, some breeds have reputations that preceed them. - Dalmations are fairly aggresive; a few months after a certain animated movie came out the shelters were awash in Dalmations when people found that Dalmations and small kids don’t mix well, no matter how hard the kids might try.
  • Even loonier, I think, is wolf mixes. (Okay Alex, I’ll take “Pets that look domesticated but aren’t” for $300, please.) - MC

I remember reading an article in the SF Weekly about 2 years ago on this topic.

Apparently, the policy of the dog pound there had been to destroy every pit bull that came in because they had no way of knowing if it had been trained to kill. The director then decided that that was too cruel and they began to attempt to test whether each individual pit bull was safe.

It wasn’t a scientific process, but it was based on the belief that there’s a trigger in pit bull’s minds and if the safety is taken off (to stretch the metaphor) it can never be put back on again and it’s only a matter of time before they fire again.


Isn’t it great that we as humans selectively breed these animals for centuries to emphasize or deemphasize certain traits, then punish the animals for acting in exactly the manner for which we’ve bred them? It’d be funny if it wasn’t so stupid.

“I love God! He’s so deliciously evil!” - Stewie Griffin, Family Guy

RealityChuck, sorry for the tangent, but I have to question your comparison of Pit Bulls to German Shepherds. My copy of Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Dogs lists German Shepherds as gentle and affectionate with children; this has also been my experience with two Shepherds.

They are * extremely * loyal, though, and have to be introduced to new people on their territory and shown that the new person is a friend of their owner.

I think I’d get flamed (or at least called names) if I seriously proposed this next item as a new topic, so while we’re on the topic of dog breeds, let me ask something that I’ve always wondered about…

Has anybody ever cross-bred a Chihuahua with a St. Bernard? I realize that artificial insemination might be the only practical way to do this. Anyway, if this experiment has indeed been carried out, what did the result look like? (My mind boggles even attempting to envision the beast.)

Hmm… my $0.02 on this one is that the only pit bull I ever had the chance to get close to was one of the sweetest, friendliest dogs I’ve ever met, especially if you scrached her tummy.

Maybe she was a freak.

My major professor had a dog that was a cross between a Chihuahua and a Doberman. He brought ‘Gizmo’ to school every day to keep him company in his office. It looked like a cat-sized Doberman with Chihuahuan ears and muzzle.

Above dog sounds like a min-pin to me.

Anyway, as a vet tech I have seen my share of all sorts of breeds of dogs. I have never met a pit I didn’t like. I also love Rotties and Dobies. Shar-peis, Chows, and Chihuahuas almost always earn themselves a muzzle. Cocker Spaniels are also notorious for being biters, as are American Eskimos. Dalmatians earn their nickname Damnations.

“Love given when it is inconvenient is the greatest love of all. Kindnesses that are shared at a high cost to oneself are the most dear.”

Don’t know who said it, but I like it.

Staffordshire Terriers (a.k.a. Pit Bulls) are wonderful children’s pets, in theory. They have two traits that make it hard to keep them as pets, however:

  • They do not like other dogs and will actually hunt other dogs to fight.

  • They are very territorial, so they will occasionally attack neighbor or stranger children even when they will let the two-year-old in their own house beat them with sticks.
    (The occasional story where a pit bull attacks a child member of its own household is almost always accompanied by the information that the dog had been bred “mean” or had suffered some similar fate.)

I’m not sure whether the records are good enough to know whether specific blood lines have a history of attacking people or not. It would be nice if we could simply breed the problems out, but that probably won’t happen. (I oppose the death penalty, but one crime I would be tempted to make an exception for would be breeders and promoters of dog fights.)


Canines are pack animals. They need a leader. The owner is supposed to be a leader & if they don’t lead the animal may take that position. This is often why they attack family members.

If you see a canine on a walk with the owner and the canine is walking ahead of the owner, you can be sure it feels its the leader of the pack.